Archive for February, 2010

Singularity Institute Research Challenge

Ends today. Last Chance to Contribute to 2010 Singularity Research Challenge!: Thanks to generous contributions by our donors, we are only $11,840 away from fulfilling our $100,000 goal for the 2010 Singularity Research Challenge. For every dollar you contribute to SIAI, another dollar is contributed by our matching donors, who have pledged to match all […]

Graphs lack mass appeal?

Andrew Gelman, Red State, Blue State sales are a factor of 2^100 lower than they should’ve been: In his forthcoming book, Albert-László Barabási writes, “There is a theorem in publishing that each graph halves a book’s audience.” If only someone had told me this two years ago! More seriously, this tongue-in-cheek theorem, if true, defines […]

The Hobbits Six Years On

The Guardian has a long piece about the hobbits of Flores, and how they may have split from from the lineage which led to H. sapiens further back in time than had previously been assumed. In other words, where the hobbits had been theorized to have been a local adaptation of H. erectus, now the […]

Methodists are still Baptists who can read

Income by Religions: Good has a rather unwieldy graph showing religion by income. No surprises, with Jews first and Hindus second in percent with six figure incomes, and Jehovah’s Witnesses and black Protestant churches last. It would be interesting to know whether there are still affluence distinctions mainline white Protestants, such as Episcopalian v. Methodist. […]

How long before the Y is incorporated into association studies?

I’ve been reading Sperm Biology: An Evolutionary Perspective; an engaging comparative look at, well, sperm biology. One fairly remarkable thing to me is that, while sperm evolve incredibly rapidly in morphology (at one point in the book, the claim is made that just about any animal can be distinguished visually by sperm cells alone[1]), the […]

Why What Darwin Got Wrong is wrong

Misunderstanding Darwin: Natural selection’s secular critics get it wrong: Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini take the role of philosophy to consist in part in minding other people’s business. We agree with the spirit behind this self-conception. Philosophy can sometimes help other areas of inquiry. Yet those who wish to help their neighbors are well advised to spend […]

SI on the White Athlete

In 1997, Sports Illustrated asked “What Ever Happened To The White Athlete?” Unsure of his place in a sports world dominated by blacks who are hungrier, harder-working and perhaps physiologically superior, the young white male is dropping out of the athletic mainstream to pursue success elsewhere Read the whole thing. Some excerpts and comments below.

Gene Expression moves to WP

For various reasons it was no longer feasible to run this website on Blogger. So I’ve switched over to WP. So please update your RSS feeds: Update: If you’re subscribed via the Feedburner feed,, you don’t need to change anything. Just changed its feed address

Defining “synthetic associations” down

David Goldstein and collegues report today the results of a genome-wide association study for a particular side effect (treatment-induced anemia) of treatment for hepatitis C. It turns out that variants in a single gene–ITPA–are overwhelmingly associated with the development of this side effect. This is a nice, probably clinically-important result, and there’s likely some interesting […]

Armenian genetics

Armenian genes: Scientist in Yerevan launches a project to reveal genetic history of the nation. The description of the science in the piece is very garbled. But, it would be nice to elucidate the genetics of Armenians in more detail. Their language, like Greek and Albanian, is a singleton in the Indo-European family tree. Additionally, […]

10 questions for Peter Turchin

Peter Turchin has appointments in ecology & evolution and mathematics at the University of Connecticut. He is the author of five books, three of which, Historical Dynamics, Secular Cycles and War and Peace and War, outline tests of models derived from the new field of cliodynamics. I have reviewed Historical Dynamics and War Peace and […]

Small genetic effects do not preclude drug development

Daniel MacArthur points me to a Newsweek article on the bankruptcy of Decode Genetics. The author describes (one of) Decode’s problems like this: The genetics of illness turned out to be more complex than researchers expected. At deCODE and elsewhere, the new genes linked to common diseases turned out to be rare or to have […]

Homo erectus and EDAR?

In Why Evolution is True, Jerry Coyne has the following parenthetical aside about population variation in morphology in H. erectus: (H. erectus from China…had shovel-shaped incisor teeth not found in other populations) This stopped me dead in my tracks: modern East Asian populations have similar tooth morphology, caused in part by a positively-selected nonsynonymous change […]

Low IQ correlated with cardiovascular disease?

Second Only to Cigarette Smoking in Large Population Study: While lower intelligence scores — as reflected by low results on written or oral tests of IQ — have been associated with a raised risk of cardiovascular disease, no study has so far compared the relative strength of this association with other established risk factors such […]

Jersey Shore nickname

What’s your Jersey Shore nickname? I like “The Prediction” for myself.

Books & guidance

Read More Books!: If you really want to understand any issue more complex than Brad and Angelina’s marital status, there’s really no substitute for a book. Not instead of blogs and newspapers and Twitter, but in addition to them. So: read more books! They’re good for you. I’ve heard and read about how awesome Charles […]

Gene Expression Survey

That time of the year. Please take the Gene Expression Survey. I’ll put up the analysis and the csv file next week. I have the usual questions, but also added a few more that might seem a bit weird. There are 30 questions total, and you don’t need to answer all of them, but as […]

Delayed childbearing & autism

Independent and dependent contributions of advanced maternal and paternal ages to autism risk: Reports on autism and parental age have yielded conflicting results on whether mothers, fathers, or both, contribute to increased risk. We analyzed restricted strata of parental age in a 10-year California birth cohort to determine the independent or dependent effect from each […]

Beautiful butterflies & localized adaptation

Two new papers are out in PLoS Genetics which make inferences about adaptation using butterfly species which exhibit Mullerian mimicry. I’ll give the author summaries instead of the abstracts. Genomic Hotspots for Adaptation: The Population Genetics of Mullerian Mimicry in the Heliconius melpomene Clade: The diversity of wing patterns in Heliconius butterflies is a longstanding […]

Eliezer Yudkowsky & Razib Khan on

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